Safety In Ulaan Baatar

Ulaan Baatar (also known as Ulan Bator) ranks as one of the world's safer cities.

But for safety's sake you should follow a few basic guidelines...

Road Safety In Ulaan Baatar

Road Safety

Genghis Khan's descendants might strike you as laid back and open minded most of the time.

But...

The Mongol hordes of yesteryear have taken to the road, and their DNA has begun to assert itself behind the wheel!

In Ulaan Baatar, you will find most pedestrian crossings near crossroads or busy junctions. But Mongolian drivers have no respect for traffic lights, so these can prove dangerous places to cross. Instead, cross where you feel safest - for me that's away from pedestrian crossings and nowhere near a T-junction or red traffic light.

Tips: Keep a wary eye out for cars driving on the sidewalk; Mongolian drivers usually drive on the right, but can often be found on the left as they race around potholes; U-turns are legal in Mongolia - beware!

Oh, and - don't forget to look down...

Manhole Covers

When crossing the road, you should look left, right and down.

Open Manhole In Ulaan Baatar

Open manholes have caught many a drunk unaware. They often appear slap bang in the middle of your path.

Pickpockets And Thieves

Pickpockets operate in some areas and target people when distracted.

Areas of the city where you should be extra vigilant include...

Chinggis Khan International Airport - When you exit the airport you may find yourself surrounded by a large crowd. Most people are just waiting for friends and relatives, but some are pickpockets and thieves. Make sure your wallets and passports are packed safely away!

Chinggis Khan International Airport

The area between the State Department Store and the circus - organized pickpocket gangs work this area. They usually target you in entrances and exits, and around elevators and escalators. A common tactic is for someone in front of you to stop suddenly. Someone then 'accidentally' collides into you from behind and lifts your wallet.

Naran Tuul Market (often called the Black Market) - Foreigners are often directed to the Naran Tuul Market for its cheap prices. But take my word for it - it's not worth the visit! The prices may be cheap, but most of the products are shoddy. There is also a fair chance someone will slash your bag and take what falls out.

The Central Post Office and Sukhbaatar Square - Again pickpocket gangs target this area. Some con men may also approach pretending to be policemen and handing out imaginary fines.

Crime is largely confined to the areas above. But you should take sensible precautions in other parts of the city.

Tip: Never keep your wallet in your back pocket. I've had a couple of people pat my pocket as I've crossed a road.

Taxis

For decades, you just stuck-out your hand and caught the first car that stopped.

But over the last few years some drivers have started to rob the unwary.

So far, I've had no problems. But I only catch registered taxis by calling the taxi firm direct. You should only have to wait for five to ten minutes.

The numbers of even the bigger taxi firms change regularly. The best way to land one is to write down the phone numbers of the smarter looking taxis which pass you, or ask a local.

Once in the taxi either show the driver your destination on a map, or have a local write your destination address in Mongolian. Don't rely on your destination being passed on to the driver by his call center.

Tip: If you find a driver you like, get his mobile phone number (especially if he speaks your language).

Safety At Night

I walked across half of Ulaan Baatar every night for several years without serious incident.

But, if you go out after dark, it's best to go with a group. Criminals target the outside of busy nightclubs and pay particular attention to those who look tipsy.

Street Kids

Street kids are frail children living a hard life.

These kids may follow you down the street, even pat your pockets, but they won't hurt you. Just give them a firm no or a sandwich.

Electrical Dangers

Safety standards do not operate at a western level.

The wires sticking out of a hotel wall could well give you a nasty shock.

Electric Socket Mongolia

If you have children, bring some duct tape to cover anything that looks dangerous.

Emergency Numbers

If you're in Ulaan Baatar and need the police call 102; call 103 in the event of a medical emergency.

And Finally...

Ulaan Baatar is a safe place and most tourists return home without incident.

Just use your common sense, enjoy your visit, and tell everyone about the fantastic time you had!

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